Sixteen military transport planes bought by the United States government for the Afghan Air Force (AAF) at a cost of nearly $500 million were recently destroyed by the Afghan military and sold for scrap parts at around six cents per pound, prompting a government inquiry to determine why millions of taxpayer dollars were wasted on the ill-fated program.

The Department of Defense purchased for the AAF a total of 20 Italian-made G222 military transport planes at a cost of $486 million. However, the fleet was grounded in March 2013 “after sustained, serious performance, maintenance, and spare parts problems” were discovered, according to the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR).

After sitting unused for some time on the tarmac at Kabul International Airport, the Afghan military decided to destroy 16 of the planes and sell the scrap metal for roughly 6 cents per pound, according to SIGAR, which has launched an investigation to determine how such a large amount of taxpayer dollars were wasted on the fleet.

SIGAR had intended to inspect the aircraft as part of its investigation and appears to have been caught off guard by the fleet’s destruction.

“It has come to my attention that the sixteen G222s at Kabul were recently towed to the far side of the airport and scrapped by the Defense Logistics Agency,” SIGAR head John Sopko wrote in a letter to the U.S. Air Force that was released on Thursday.

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